Background: Rates of remission and relapse were studied over more than 2 years in a sample of Spanish outpatients with DSM-III-R criteria of unipolar major depressive episodes.
Methods: Patients were treated following standardised pharmacological protocols at our centre. In the first visit, the structured clinical interview for DSM-III-R (SCID) was used. The following visits were held monthly. Phases of evolution were recorded using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), applying the Frank criteria.
Results: A significantly greater proportion of relapse was observed in the partial remission group compared to the complete remission one. The rate of relapses for patients in complete remission was 15.18%, while for patients in partial remission was 67.61%. Partial remission was significantly associated with relapses.
Limitations: The short duration of the study and the decreasing sample size during the follow-up.
Conclusions: Partial remission after a depressive episode seems to be strongly associated with relapses. Moreover, this clinical factor could by itself fully predict short-term relapses.
Clinical relevance: The study shows the importance of reaching complete remission to decrease the rate of short-term relapses.